Sunday, November 15, 2015


As a followup to the earlier post on Arles, here is the neighboring city of Aix or as it is now known, Aix-en-Provence.

Aix (French: [ɛks]; Provençal Occitan: Ais pronounced [ˈajz]), the capital of Provence, is located in the south of France, about 30 km (19 mi) north of Marseille.

Aix (Aquae Sextiae) was founded by the Romans in 123 BC and became the metropolis of Narbonensis Secunda in the 4th century. It was occupied by the Visigoths in 477, plundered by the Franks and Lombards in the 6th century, occupied by the Saracens in 731, and by Charles Martel in 737. Aix did not reach its zenith until after the 12th century, when, under the houses of Barcelona/Aragon and Anjou, it became an artistic centre and seat of learning. Aix passed to the crown of France with the rest of Provence in 1487, and in 1501 Louis XII established there the parliament of Provence. In the 17th century the town was the seat of the Intendance of Provence.

Geography and climate: Aix-en-Provence is situated in a plain overlooking the Arc, about a mile from the right bank of the river. The city slopes gently from north to south and the Montagne Sainte-Victoire can easily be seen to the east. Aix's position in the south of France gives it a warm, Mediterranean climate. It has an average January temperature of 5 °C (41 °F) and a July average of 22 °C (72 °F). It has an average of 300 days of sunshine and only 91 days of rain. While it is partially protected from the Mistral, Aix does occasionally suffer from the cold gusty conditions it brings.


  • Cathédrale Saint Saveur – seat of the archbishop of Aix
  • Église Saint Jean Baptiste
  • Chapelle de la Visitation
  • Église de Saint Ésprit
  • Église des Oblats
  • Église de Saint Jean de Malte
  • Les Chartreux
  • Couvent des Cordeliers
  • Couvent des Augustins
  • Couvent des Frères Prêcheurs
  • Couvent de la Miséricorde
  • Couvent des Carmes

Public Places 

  • Hôtel de Ville
  • Palais Comtal – former palace of King René, now seat of the Parlement d’Aix
  • Porte des Augustins – main city gate

Inns, Taverns, and Clubs

  • The Golden Fox
  • The Jeweled Mitre
  • The Sign of the Three Ducks


  • Route to the Alps
  • Route to Avignon
  • Route to Marseille
  • Route to Toulon
  • Vers Rians

Important People

  • Charles Annibal Fabrot, jurist
  • Étienne de Saint-Méran, abbé de Saint-Méran
  • François de Valbelle Vicar General of Aix
  • Vincent-Anne de Forbin-Maynier, baron d'Oppède


Cathédrale Saint Saveur

The Cathedral of the Holy Saviour (Aix Cathedral) is seat of the archbishop of Aix. It is situated to the north in the medieval part of Aix. Built on the site of a former Roman forum and an adjacent basilica, it contains a mixture of all styles from the 5th to the 17th century, including a richly decorated portal in the Gothic style with doors elaborately carved in walnut. The interior contains 16th-century tapestries, a 15th-century triptych, depicting King René and his wife on the side panels, as well as a Merovingian baptistery, its Renaissance dome supported by original Roman columns. The archbishop's palace (Palais de l'Archêveché) and a Romanesque cloister adjoin the cathedral on its south side.

Église Saint Jean Baptiste

A new church was built on an old church building designed by architect Laurent Vallon (1652-1724), and built from 1697 to 1702. The building is shaped like a Greek cross.

Chapelle de la Visitation

This chapel is located in the northern part of the whole monastery, built between 1647 and 1652 on plans by Pierre Pavilion. It deliberately departs from the traditional pattern of the order to two floors, in honor among most architects of the Society of Jesus.

Église de Saint Ésprit

In the 18th century, the Hôpital du Saint-Esprit, a hospital of the Order of the Holy Ghost, and several houses were torn down to make way for the construction of a new church designed by architects Laurent Vallon (1652-1724) and Georges Vallon (1688-1767), and built from 1706 to 1728. It was then known as Église Saint-Jérôme, in honour of Jérôme de Grimaldi (1597–1685), who served as Archbishop of Aix from 1655 to 1683.

Église des Oblats

The chapel is on the site of the former convent of the Carmelites (1625). The convent, then outside the walls, was rebuilt in 1695-1701 to plans by Thomas Veyrier. The chapel of the Oblates has an elliptical dome covering the nave Latin cross, without collateral, which accentuates the height effect. Widely illuminated by a skylight and four oval bull’s eye windows. The facade of the Oblates was redesigned by Laurent Vallon in 1697, highlighted by a flight of stairs.

Église de Saint Jean de Malte

This site was initially occupied in the twelfth century by a hospice and chapel of the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of Malta, under the jurisdiction of the priory of Saint-Gilles in Provence. The thirteenth-century church formed part of a priory of the same order situated in olive groves outside the city walls of Aix. From the thirteenth century it served as a burial place for the Counts of Provence. In the seventeenth century it was incorporated within the city of Aix when the ramparts were extended to the south.

Les Chartreux

The large estate of the Carthusian monks, monastic order founded by St. Bruno in the Dauphine in 1633 and installed in the territory of the city, outside the city walls on the way linking Aix-en-Provence to Nice. This district formerly the Madeleine district, owes its present name to the construction of Carthusian monastery from 1633. A first setting Chartreux in Marseille date of 1214. It was located on the plain of slopes Saint Michel, near the Porte Reale. In 1249, they must abandon it and join a building adjoining the convent of Friars Minor. These local, having been demolished in 1523 during the invasion of armies of Charles V and the Constable of Bourbon, there is no question of Marseille Chartreux, until the seventeenth century by which time arrived in our city, delegates from the Certosa Villeneuve Avignons, looking for a clean room for the installation of a new colony. The Carthusian church is certainly one of the oldest of Marseille (1684) and more characteristics. It was consecrated and placed under the patronage of St. Mary Magdalene in 1702.

Couvent des Augustins

Built During The 12th Century, the Couvent des Augustins Was Transformed gradually up to the 17th century. Martin Luther eas one of the most notorious guests of the convent. The founder of the Protestant Reform movement and member of the "Brotherhood of the Augustinians of Erfurt", stayed a long time at the Convent after being Excommunicated by Pope Leo X in 1521.

Couvent des Frères Prêcheurs

In 1363, a fire ravaged the monastery of the Dominican Priors. Under the leadership of Guigonnet Jarente, seigneur de Monclar et de Gémenos, a supporter of the Second House of Anjou, the consuls of Aix asked for reconstruction of the site. In 1691 it was replaced by the church of Sainte-Madeleine.

Couvent de la Miséricorde

Construction began on the Convent of Mercy August 14, 1637.

Couvent des Carmes

The Carmelites settled in this area in 1359.

Public Places

Hôtel de Ville

The Hôtel de Ville looks onto a picturesque square (place de l'Hôtel de Ville). It contains some fine woodwork and tapestries. At its side rises a handsome clock-tower erected in 1510.

Palais Comtal

Former palace of King René, now seat of the Parlement d’Aix

Porte des Augustin

Main city gate


Aix is often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains. Among the most notable are the 17th-century Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins (Fountain of the Four Dolphins) in the Quartier Mazarin, designed by Jean-Claude Rambot, and three of the fountains down the central Cours Mirabeau:

Inns, Taverns, and Clubs

The Jeweled Mitre

The Jeweled Mitre is located very near the Palais Comtal in Aix. Established in 1603, the club was founded by members of the chapter of the Cathédrale Saint Saveur.

The club is richly appointed, featuring a valuable collection of furnishings donated by various members over the years. The cooks of the Jeweled Mitre are reputed to be among the best in Aix and the club includes a well-stocked wine cellar – spirits are not served, however. A few gambling tables are located in a small salon and a 150 £ table limit is strictly observed; cheating is dealt with harshly by the archbishop’s diocesan tribunal. An wealthy procuress arranges discreet feminine companionship for members.

The members of the Jeweled Mitre come from the first and second estates of France, including clergy from both Aix and Avignon and the many robe and sword nobles of the provincial capital. A smaller umber of wealthy bourgeoisie and officials of the realm are also welcomed. The members are uniformly Catholic, often with ultramontane sympathies. Club officers are almost always members of the cathedral chapter. Members may wear a small jeweled pin in the shape of a bishop’s mitre.

The governors consist of a premier chef and three chefs du club, with two treasurers and two secretaries. A small number of managers assist with the day-to-day operation of the club. Annual dues are 25 £. Members of the Jeweled Mitre enjoy reciprocal privileges with the Fellows of Saint George in Paris.

The Golden Fox

The Inn of the Golden Fox is located just off of the main square of Aix. The innkeeper is a female dwarf, as in midget, named Margrethe. Her son, also a dwarf, runs errands for the guests.

The Sign of the Three Ducks

Sign of the Three Ducks is in a no-frills tavern in a rough and seedy portion of the old Medieval center of Aix.

Important People

  • Charles Annibal Fabrot, (1580–1659), a French lawywer, was born in Aix
  • Étienne de Saint-Méran, abbé de Saint-Méran: Official of the Diocesan Tribunals for the archdiocese of Aix (SR 9)
  • François de Valbelle; Vicar general of the archdiocese of Aix (SR 8) he has contacts in the church in Marseile to keep tabs on the Bishop of Marseille, François de Loménie.
  • Vincent-Anne de Forbin-Maynier, baron d'Oppède: First president of the Parlement of Aix (SR 10)


Montagne Sainte-Victoire

To the east of Aix rises the Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1011 m), one of the landmarks of the Pays d'Aix. It is accessible from the centre of Aix by road or on foot, taking the wooded footpath of Escrachou Pevou to the plateau of Bibemus. The village of le Tholonet is on the precipitous southern side of Mont Sainte-Victoire.

To the north, the mountain slopes gently down through woodland to the village of Vauvenargues. The Château of Vauvenargues overlooking the village was formerly occupied the by the Counts of Provence (including René of Anjou) and the Archbishops of Aix before it became the family home of the marquis de Vauvenargues.

Mont Sainte-Victoire has a complex network of paths, leading to the priory and Croix de Provence at the summit and to the Roman viaduct above le Tholonet.



1600 Map 

1570 Map

Note: for those who may be following along with the adventure write ups, Arles and Aix-en-Provence aren't part of those adventures (which occurred back in 2012-2013), but are part of the more recent adventures in 2015. Eventually I should catch up to the current adventures, but it is likely to take a while.

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